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Truax v. Raich

The Anti-alien Law

When Mike Raich was in danger of losing his job at the Bisbee, Arizona restaurant where he worked as a cook, it had nothing to do with his abilities as a chef. The Austrian-born Raich was the victim of a 1914 Arizona law requiring all businesses with five or more employees to hire a work force that was at least 80 percent native-born American.

Arizona's Anti-Alien Employment Act first appeared before voters in a statewide public referendum. When the measure passed, Raich's boss, William Truax, warned the cook that keeping him on would mean $100 fines and 30 days in jail for both of them. Truax told Raich that he could expect to be fired as soon as the act became law.

On 15 December 1914, the day after the act was signed into law, Raich filed a suit in Arizona's U.S. district court, charging that the act denied his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law. Arizona Attorney General Wiley E. Jones, Cochise County Attorney W. G. Gilmore, and William Truax were named as defendants. Raich was not alone in his anger over the bill. Formal protests were lodged by the English and Italian embassies, whose governments sensed that the terms of the law represented an abrogation of international treaties. The Japanese government, whose citizens were the specific targets of xenophobic American laws, took its concerns to the U.S. State Department.

Raich's suit resulted in a temporary court order preventing Truax from dismissing the cook. When the county attorney's office learned that Truax was forbidden to fire Raich under the restraining order, Gilmore's office had Truax arrested for violating the Anti-Alien Act. The arrest appeared to be a legal formality, for Gilmore, Truax, and Jones joined in asking for a dismissal of Raich's suit against them. On 7 January 1915, however, a federal district court in San Francisco ruled that Arizona's Anti-Alien Law was unconstitutional. The special three-judge tribunal made permanent the temporary restraining order against Raich's dismissal. Thus prevented from enforcing the Arizona law, the defendants appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Truax v. Raich - The Anti-alien Law, The Right To Earn A Living, Further Readings